Man’s sentence challenge rejected by appellate court

In his third appeal before the Indiana Court of Appeals, a Marion County man’s sentence for rape, criminal deviate conduct and burglary have been affirmed after the appellate court found that a motion to correct sentence was not the appropriate remedy for his claim.

In 1994, Harry Hobbs was found guilty of Class A felony rape, two counts of Class A felony criminal deviate conduct and Class B felony burglary, and was sentenced to an aggregate of 120 years. Hobbs filed his first appeal before the Indiana Court of Appeals in Hobbs v. State, 49A02-9410-CR-614 (1995), but the panel affirmed both his convictions and his sentence.

Then, 20 years later, Hobbs filed a motion to correct erroneous sentence, arguing that his sentence violated various sections of Indiana Code. The Marion Superior Court denied that motion, and Hobbs appealed a second time, this time resulting in a remand with instructions to reduce Hobbs’ 55-year sentences to 45 years each. However, the panel rejected Hobbs’ argument that his aggregate sentence should be reduced to 110 years because the 120-year aggregate sentence was not facially erroneous.

Thus, the trial court reduced Hobbs’ 55-year sentences to 45-years, but adjusted other portions of the sentence to maintain the 120-year aggregate. Hobbs then filed the instant appeal in Harry Hobbs v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1609-CR-1983, arguing that his sentence must be reduced because his offenses constituted a single episode of criminal conduct.

The Indiana Court of Appeals once again affirmed Hobbs’ sentence Wednesday, with Senior Judge Betty Barteau writing that under Indiana Code 35-38-1-15 (1983), a mistake in an erroneous sentence can be corrected with either a motion to correct sentence or an appeal from a final order. Use of the statutory motion to correct sentence is “narrowly confined” to claims apparent from the face of the sentencing judgment, Barteau wrote, and any claims not facially apparent cannot be resolved under the motion to correct.

Because the appellate court could not resolve Hobbs’ claim without looking past the face of the sentencing order, his arguments related to an episode of criminal conduct may not be raised in a motion to correct erroneous sentence, Barteau said.

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